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Early signs of newborn development

In this article, we investigate what to expect in the newborn's first month of life and the connection between bonding and newborn development.
A colourful chart visually shows the baby's physical progress in one month increments over a period of 12 months.
© Griffith University

In the first month of life, a baby spends all their time sleeping, feeding and cuddling – or that’s how it may seem.

In fact, there is a lot more going on. The baby’s brain is rapidly developing and learning is almost a full time job as they experience the world around them.

The newborn baby will usually demonstrate all the normal range of reflexes, including rooting, suck, moro, tonic neck, grasp and stepping reflexes.

What else should we expect in the first month?

  • The baby should be able to follow a face with their eyes. Babies find faces interesting, particularly their parents’ faces.

  • At one month of age, a baby will know their mother’s voice well and will startle easily at unfamiliar sounds and voices.

  • If the baby is placed in a prone position (on their abdomen) at around one month of age, they should be able to lift their head briefly and turn the head to the side.

Yes, the brain is hard at work and it’s important to know that the quality of interactions between babies and their caregivers is thought to be directly connected to their social, emotional and cognitive development (Winston & Chicot, 2016).

Your task

You have probably heard the stories about babies who failed to thrive in orphanages, due to a lack of love, touch and nurturing. What types of interactions and behaviours toward the baby might promote healthy development in the early weeks of life?


Winston, R., & Chicot, R. (2016). The importance of early bonding on the long-term mental health and resilience of children. London Journal of Primary Care, 8(1), 12–14

© Griffith University
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Assessment of the Newborn

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